I am so excited and pleased to introduce Helena Fine, the owner of Olivia Grace Jewellery. Helena and I got to know each other during my time at the World Gemmological Institute in London, where we would always chat about diamonds and jewellery. Helena would visit the lab when providing additional valuation or certification services for her clients. She is a sparkly businesswoman, instantly recognisable from her positive, can-do attitude!
Helena started her career as a personal assistant for a diamond dealer, where she sold natural diamonds to Cartier and Graff. Soon she became a broker, however she had a lot more up her sleeve. Equipped with both a solid foundation from her french business degree, and the experience she gained from her time with the diamond dealer. These acted as the most important pillars to build her business on.
Twenty years ago, Helena went through repeated phases of trial and error whilst working with designers without the use of CAD technology to perfect her pieces. Fast forward to today and Helena is turning her beautiful designs into jewellery in a workshop of her own. Years of hard work finally came into fruition and made Helena flying from London to Chicago to design and create an engagement ring for Penny Lancaster and Rod Stewart. Such adventures with celebrities elevated her to becoming a coveted designer, featuring in London Fashion Week.
F: How valuable is it being a member of the London Diamond Bourse?
H: Being part of an organisation that only works with ethically sourced diamonds was a good decision. I couldn’t think of a better place to build my network so that I can rapidly source natural diamonds for my clients. This industry is really based on trust and over the years I have seen how much we really depend on each other. It is hard for any company to be accepted and meet the expectations of the The London Diamond Bourse (LDB). The LDB has given my business prestige and the ability to fully execute the Kimberly Process in my everyday actions.
F: It is very hard to succeed in this industry. Which of your superpowers do you think has been the greatest contributor to your accomplishments?
H: Keeping my expenses low is something I’ve learned over time, but I would say that my artistic side would not have gone this far without my business education. I looked at diamonds day by day, I really started at the beginning. My secret sauce was to focus on the business side of things as much as possible to serve my customers excellently.
F: What is the most insane thing about diamonds that you have come across?
H: There are a few customers, who come to you with statistics they’ve learned about diamonds online – which are not always accurate. Once, I had a customer who thought that diamonds were made by machines! So, I invested a lot of time and showed him how difficult it is to find a natural diamond and explained how diamond mining works. He was so pleased to know about the process in the end!
F: If you were to give a TEDTalk about diamonds, what would you talk about?
H: I would talk about the energy and emotion that comes with diamonds and jewellery. All about the history of this natural, emotional closeness between people and jewellery, as well as the spiritual bond that we have with diamonds. Jewellery is immortal and keeps the memory of the wearer alive.
F: A beautiful topic which leads me to ask you about jewellery upscaling and the investment worthy pieces that you make…
H: This is close to my heart as some of my clients have inherited items that they could never wear, and we turn them into bespoke pieces which still holds the memory of their loved ones.
It can be anything really. For example I once turned an item of men’s jewellery into something that a woman can confidently wear, or the yellow gold ruby brooch transformed into a ruby ring with a modern, fresh look. Having quality diamond jewellery means that you can pass down pieces to future generations. If you buy right,diamonds will not just hold their value, but also increase in value over time.
F: What do you suggest for people looking to buy diamonds?
H: I would say always buy from people you trust, Franka. We do have a lot of reputable and honest people in our industry. The key is to know who to talk to. I myself prefer to buy stones with GIA certificates. I never go for treated diamonds as they are not good for investment purposes. The other things I avoid buying are laboratory grown diamonds, simply because they do not hold their value. They may come across cheaper, and I know that it might be tempting, but unfortunately, there is a huge difference between natural and lab-grown diamonds and I always educate my customers on the main principles of investment. Buying a natural diamond is like buying an original Picasso. If you opt for a reproduction of a Picasso, you won’t see it valued anywhere near to the real thing.
F: Do you get questions about blood diamonds?
H: Yes…already 13 years ago, when creating the engagement ring for Rod Stuart, his first question was: ‘’Are you dealing with ethical diamonds?’’
Some people still think that the diamond trade is not ethical, but it is ethical. The industry has been regulated for about twenty years now by the Kimberley Process, which was put in place to prevent ‘conflict diamonds’ from entering the mainstream diamond market.
People must understand the change and that conflict stones aren’t so common these days. On top of that, families and communities are provided with incomes and improved lifestyles thanks to the support of the diamond industry. A good example, for those who would like to learn more, is the evolution of the diamond trade in Botswana. The world has profoundly changed. This is one of the most regulated industries.
F: Could you tell me more about the difficulties that come about when purchasing diamonds online?
H: Purchasing diamonds online could work for someone with many years of experience i.e. professionals. They know, for example, what kind of proportions to look for. Also, the way diamonds react under different light sources is one of the aspects that would have an impact on the decision. I always show untreated, natural diamonds to my customers and let them fall in love with the one that they find the most beautiful. It is down to personal taste after all.
When looking online, it is also hard to visualize the cut of the diamond; for me maximum light reflection is the most important. We know about the 4C’s. I have added a 5th quality, which is Character. No 2 diamonds are the same and they all have their own personal qualities.
F: If you could have a giant billboard anywhere with anything on it about diamonds, what would it say?
H: I would talk about my diamond jewellery, the energy of the designer and craftsman goes into each piece and we love what we do: “It’s made with love and passion – it’s given with love and it should be worn with love.”
Diamonds are the best gifts as they last forever and have magical powers to connect with people. They have a true story behind them and have gone through ‘one hell of a ride’ from 100 miles below the Earth’s surface. For centuries, diamonds have represented true and enduring love. Only something as precious, real and rare as a natural diamond can be an authentic symbol to mark the moments that we want to remember forever.
Helena helps celebrities with their jewellery styling needs. She takes her collections to their homes and helps them choose the best jewellery designs for different occasions. This is just another interesting part of her job, but her heart lies with charity work where she gives talks and helps to raise funds. She is an advocate of thinking big. Helena recently gave a talk on “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” to empower women in business and to encourage them to think about themselves limitlessly. Find out more about her Helena and her beautiful collection on her website.
Written by www.frankassparklers.com
Bespoke diamonds and jewellery Paris-London-Milan
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